Alistair Cooke

  • American journalist
  • Born November 20, 1908
  • Died March 30, 2004

Alistair Cooke (20 November 1908 – 30 March 2004) was a British-born American writer whose work as a journalist, television personality and radio broadcaster was done primarily in the United States. Outside his journalistic output, which included Letter from America and America: A Personal History of the United States, he was well known in the United States as the host of PBS Masterpiece Theatre from 1971 to 1992. After holding the job for 22 years, and having worked in television for 42 years, Cooke retired in 1992, although he continued to present Letter from America until shortly before his death.

The best compliment to a child or a friend is the feeling you give him that he has been set free to make his own inquiries, to come to conclusions that are right for him, whether or not they coincide with your own.

Curiosity endows the people who have it with a generosity in argument and a serenity in their own mode of life which springs from their cheerful willingness to let life take the form it will.

Man has an incurable habit of not fulfilling the prophecies of his fellow men.

These doomsday warriors look no more like soldiers than the soldiers of the Second World War looked like conquistadors. The more expert they become the more they look like lab assistants in small colleges.

These humiliations are the essence of the game.

Canned music is like audible wallpaper.

As always, the British especially shudder at the latest American vulgarity, and then they embrace it with enthusiasm two years later.

Hollywood grew to be the most flourishing factory of popular mythology since the Greeks.

People in America, when listening to radio, like to lean forward. People in Britain like to lean back.

It's an acting job - acting natural.

A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn't feel like it.

People, when they first come to America, whether as travelers or settlers, become aware of a new and agreeable feeling: that the whole country is their oyster.

Curiosity is free-wheeling intelligence.

Cocktail music is accepted as audible wallpaper.